Jason Mott won the fiction prize for his novel “Hell of a Book” at the 2021 virtual National Book Awards Nov. 17, hosted inside the offices of Penguin Random House.
“Hell of a Book” opens as the story of a Black author touring the country to promote his novel, but it soon broadens to take on themes of love, family and what it means to be Black in America.
Tiya Miles was awarded the nonfiction prize for “All that She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, A Black Family Keepsake.” Beginning in the 1850s in South Carolina, the book follows the journey of a cotton sack across several generations of women.
In poetry, Martín Espada won for his collection “Floaters,” which celebrates rebels and dreamers and condemns the poor governmental response to Hurricane Maria in 2017 in Puerto Rico, his father’s home country.
The award in the category of translated literature went to Elisa Shua Dusapin for “Winter in Sokcho,” translated by Aneesa Abbas Higgins, a novel about an uneasy relationship between a French Korean receptionist and a French cartoonist who lands at the guesthouse she works in.
The young people’s literature award went to Malinda Lo for “Last Night at the Telegraph Club,” which judges called an “incandescent novel of queer possibility.” The narrative, set in 1954, follows two young women who risk everything to bring their love out of the shadows.
Karen Tei Yamashita and Nancy Pearl were also recognized with the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, respectively.
Complete winners list
YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE
Shing Yin Khor, “The Legend of Auntie Po”
Malinda Lo, “Last Night at the Telegraph Club”
Kyle Lukoff, “Too Bright to See”
Kekla Magoon, “Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People”
Amber McBride, “Me (Moth)”
Elisa Shua Dusapin, “Winter in Sokcho,” translated from French by Aneesa Abbas Higgins
Ge Fei, “Peach Blossom Paradise,” translated from Chinese by Canaan Morse
Nona Fernández, “The Twilight Zone,” translated from Spanish by Natasha Wimmer
Benjamín Labatut, “When We Cease to Understand the World,” translated from Spanish by Adrian Nathan West
Samar Yazbek, “Planet of Clay,” translated from Arabic by Leri Price
Desiree C. Bailey, “What Noise Against the Cane”
Martín Espada, “Floaters”
Douglas Kearney, “Sho”
Hoa Nguyen, “A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure”
Jackie Wang, “The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us From the Void”
Hanif Abdurraqib, “A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance”
Lucas Bessire, “Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains”
Grace M. Cho, “Tastes Like War: A Memoir”
Nicole Eustace, “Covered With Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America”
Tiya Miles, “All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake”
Anthony Doerr, “Cloud Cuckoo Land”
Lauren Groff, “Matrix”
Laird Hunt, “Zorrie”
Robert Jones Jr., “The Prophets”
Jason Mott, “Hell of a Book”